it's the condiment in the bright yellow bottle with the pointy cap at the diner, the favorite burger joint, the neighborhood deli, and the ballpark that we all take for granted. But have you ever given serious thought to how it's made?
Probably not. While store-bought mustard is convenient, making your own at home has some serious advantages - you know exactly what's going in it; you can customize it with whatever type of mustard seeds, herbs, vinegars, or other flavorings you like; and it's obviously a lot fresher than what you get from the store. Plus, it's really easy to make.
We teamed up with Jim Love and his team at Be Mindful. Be Human., part of The Daily Meal's Culinary Content Network, to get the lowdown on how to make this condiment at home. They provided some great tips on how to make mustard, plus a recipe that's easy to follow and modify to your heart's content. Their recipe makes use of both yellow and brown mustard seeds and results in some serious texture and flavor - it's pleasantly grainy, pungent, and hot with just the right amount of tang balanced by a bit of sweetness. It's fantastic for everything from hot dogs and pretzels to pulled pork and kicked-up salad dressings, and it's way better than whatever's been sitting around in your pantry for a few decades.
Jim Love and his team at Be Mindful. Be Human. use equal parts yellow and brown mustard seed, a bit of cider vinegar, a bit of brown sugar and salt to balance it out, a bit of cumin for smoky, earthy flavor, and a bit of white wine.
The recipe has specific amounts for all of the ingredients, but the number one rule of cooking still applies: Taste it as you go, and don't be afraid to have a little fun with it. Mustard seeds come in three main varieties - yellow, brown, and black. For a more American-style mustard, use all yellow seeds, plain white vinegar, and ditch the cumin. For a more Dijon-style mustard, ditch the cumin and white wine and sub in fresh chopped tarragon and white-wine vinegar. Or for something really interesting, grate in some fresh horseradish or fruit purée. Catch the drift?
We could tell you everything but that would just take the fun out of it. Let your imagination run wild!
Soak the Seeds
But no matter what kind of mustard you're making, always soak the seeds first for 24 hours, says Love. This helps remove bitterness and softens the seeds, which obviates the need for cooking them. Exposing them to heat, he says, brings out the tannins and makes the mustard taste old. As a rule of thumb, always use a 2:1 ratio of cold water to seeds, and put a lid on it.
Drain the Seeds
The next day, drain the seeds in a relatively fine-meshed colander - if in doubt, try pushing one of the smaller seeds through a hole and if it doesn't slip through, you're good to go.
Add the Liquids and Sweeteners
Transfer the seeds to the bowl of a food processor or a blender. Add whatever liquids, purées, and sweeteners you're using - here, Love uses a bit of cider vinegar, white wine, and brown sugar, but feel free to use whatever you like. If you're experimenting, err on the side of caution and add just a little bit of whatever you're using. You can always add more if the paste is too thick.
Process until a smooth paste is formed.
Add the Seasonings
Add whatever herbs and spices you're using. At this point, Love adds cumin and salt. Process again until blended, and taste. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Your mustard is all set. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors meld before using on your favorite foods.